Is It Possible Not To Pass On My Driving Anxiety To My Child?


Is It Possible Not To Pass On My Driving Anxiety To My Child?

The evening I got into THE car accident, I specifically remember giving myself a pep talk about driving. That I couldn’t control other drivers and I didn’t want to spend my entire life gripping the steering wheel.

I never had the carefree driving skills of an average teenager, the feeling of freedom and some lack of understanding about the laws of physics and the presence of police officers. I would barely speed, stopped at the red lights, never drank and drove, and rarely felt entirely comfortable behind the wheel of a car. A friend dying in a car accident the spring of my senior year of high school certainly did not assuage these fears, only making them worse. She had done everything right with seat belts, speed, responsibility…and it still wasn’t enough.

In November 2006, I had my first-ever car accident. I was sitting in a median, waiting to turn, and someone rounded the corner and hit me from behind.

I was just sitting still. 

It crunched in the back of our Toyota, which still had our dog crate from a Thanksgiving trip, and I don’t think we were able to get the crate out of the car. It was an old enough car that insurance considered it totaled, and we bought a little white Saturn. I don’t have a lot of love for Saturn, because of an Ion we later had, but who knows, maybe that little plastic car saved my life. 

When I got in another accident less than a year later, I was just sitting still. Again. 

At a major intersection not far from my house, I was driving home a friend after Bible study in Nashville. She saw the other car coming; I did not. A young woman had gotten off the highway because she felt sick. But then she passed out in her SUV, and it came across the intersection, taking the whole driver’s side off my little white Saturn. 

Somehow Amber and I both came out of it unscathed in the physical sense. I had a little puncture wound from some glass; Amber had whiplash, but obviously we were both thrilled to have those be the only issues. We had both wished to be pregnant then, and thankfully neither of us were. The mental images and aftershock were terrible, though, and you can’t unsee being cut out of a car while no one can reach your husband on his phone. 

Once again, I was just sitting there. Not running lights. Not speeding. I wasn’t even MOVING. And yet a car accident could have easily taken my life.

keys to the car

More than 16 years later, I’m facing the fact that my daughter has been 15 for a few months and it’s time for my first child to learn to drive. And while I’m not usually highly anxious, this has my stomachs in knots. I can teach her everything I know about driving, and send her to driver’s school, and scare her half to death…but I can’t prevent freak accidents, errors in judgment, and people passing out in their cars.

I don’t want to pass on all my fears to her but I want her to be the most careful driver in history. How can I teach her to be cautious without loading anxiety onto her back?

I wish I had some wonderful advice to pass on, but I guess I am just asking for yours! Is there a way to relax and let go as your kid backs out of the driveway (and hopefully not directly into another car)?


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